Brigham Young University’s broadcast journalism program recently placed first in the Hearst Journalism Awards Program’s Intercollegiate Broadcast News Competition—a competition widely considered the most prestigious for student broadcasters.
With the highest accumulated school points, BYU beat out Arizona State University, the University of North Carolina, Northwestern University and Penn State University, among others, for the top spot in what Bill Silcock calls the “student-broadcasting equivalent of the Oscars.”
“There is really nothing else equivalent to show the best broadcast news students in the country,” says Silcock, an Arizona State University assistant professor of broadcast journalism. “There are the Golden Globes and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, but really, everyone wants an Oscar, and I think that’s what the Hearst awards are the equivalent to.”
BYU’s victory came in the first of two broadcast competitions hosted each school year by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. The category students competed in was features. Among 32 radio and 65 television entries, four of BYU’s six student submissions received recognition.
In the radio category, Ryan McIlvain placed third, earning a $1,000 award, and Danielle Wood placed fourth, earning a $750 award. In the television category, Jamie Cook placed seventh, earning a $500 award, and Theron Anderson tied for 14th place, receiving an award certificate.
BYU has placed second in the last two Hearst broadcast competitions, but the first-place finish reflects the increasingly high caliber of BYU’s broadcast program, says Erin Goff, broadcast editorial director.
“I think we’ve raised the bar with the program and for the students,” says Goff. “We demand more, and we treat our newsroom as a working environment.”
Dale Cressman, assistant professor of broadcast journalism at BYU, noted that adding experienced staff and bringing in cutting-edge equipment has helped to raise that bar.
“It’s an affirmation for us that we’re on the right track, and it’s a measure of indication of the changes we made,” says Cressman. “We were doing he fundamentals already, but I think it’s the extra polish that makes the difference.”
And that extra polish, says Silcock, is not going unnoticed.
“A school like BYU, that may have been stereotyped as some church school out West, becomes a force to be reckoned with when they’re number one against such prestigious schools. It really shows BYU plays in the top field and wins,” he says.